Protect us from Malema

2010-09-26 09:46

Top ANC national executive committee (NEC) members have called on party leaders to protect them from ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema, who has been accused of intimidation and rowdy behaviour.

The call came after Malema and his league colleagues verbally abused leading ANC figures repeatedly during this week’s five-day national general council (NGC) in Durban.

Among those attacked by Malema were NEC members Max Sisulu, Trevor Manuel, Pallo Jordan and Joel Netshitenzhe.

Malema apparently labelled Netshitenzhe a “capitalist” during a heated debate on the nationalisation of mines.

Other ANCYL leaders accused Sisulu of being unfit to chair the economic transformation commission.

Malema also angered the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) at Thursday night’s meeting when he told the commission that he did not “take anyone who was in exile seriously”.

The MKMVA laid a complaint with ANC national chairperson Baleka Mbete and demanded that Malema either issue a public apology in full plenary or be suspended from the ANC and face expulsion.

City Press spoke to no fewer than 11 delegates and two sources close to President Jacob Zuma who attended the NGC. All of them confirmed that an ugly spat took place in the economic transformation commission and in plenary session, where Malema apparently made the remarks.

A delegate said that before Netshitenzhe addressed the plenary session on Friday, he asked justice minister Jeff Radebe – who chaired that meeting – to protect him from Malema.

The delegate said: “Joel requested Jeff not to allow Julius to speak after him because he would attack him and he (Joel) would not have a chance to respond.

“These guys were arguing over grammar. Even on Thursday morning they were still crying foul over the wording of the draft recommendation.”

Netshitenzhe confirmed that he had asked the NGC to protect him against Malema, and added that he did so “in jest, in good spirit, and as a joke”.

However, Netshitenzhe said: “It is inaccurate that I was called a capitalist but I would not want to go into the details because it was a closed session.”

He said the positions he was articulating in the commission were in essence adopted as a consensus both in the commission and in plenary.

“Firstly, you need to consolidate state assets in mining into a state-owned mining company. Secondly, you need to urgently develop a mining sector strategy, and it is that strategy that would determine the extent to which the company gets involved in mining operations,” he said yesterday.

Ahead of the NGC, the youth league had lobbied strongly for its nationalisation plan to become ANC policy and even threatened to oust leaders who failed to back it.

On Thursday night, not only did Malema and his cohorts bulldoze their way onto the stage demanding to address delegates on nationalisation, they also heckled and booed their opponents.

Zuma also attended the economic transformation commission but remained silent during the proceedings.

One delegate said the outspoken youth leader told Zuma “in his face” that the NEC should undertake a study on how other countries had carried out nationalisation but that he had a problem with how Netshitenzhe wanted the draft recommendation framed.

The delegate said: “Malema told Zuma that the NGC is instructing the NEC to research nationalisation and bring a detailed report to the 2012 ANC national policy conference.”

Young Communist League national chair David Masondo tore into Manuel, who was a rapporteur in that gathering, saying that he “was doing what the ANCYL had expected of him” when he apparently toned down the draft recommendation.

On Friday, the ANC stopped short of expelling Malema and other youth leaders – among them ANCYL general secretary Vuyiswa Tulelo and spokesperson Floyd Shivambu – for causing pandemonium at plenary.

However, the party decided not to expel them after Gauteng ANC leader Paul Mashatile submitted an apology to the delegates on behalf of all provincial chairpersons for the rowdy behaviour of the youth league at the NGC.

A source close to Zuma said the president and his allies spent the past three months quietly mobilising support in the ANC provinces to head off the league’s challenge.

The source said: “The ANCYL is like (wayward Manchester United striker) Wayne Rooney. They believe their own propaganda about how good they are.”

Two delegates said that this was a “perfect time” for Zuma to act against the league but he did not.

They said: “We may have had problems with Trevor and Joel going to Polokwane but they have a lot to contribute and these boys were saying to them ‘keep quiet’, ‘we know your agenda’, and they said to Sisulu ‘you are not fit to chair this meeting’.”

In its declaration, the NGC said there had been greater consensus in the economic transformation commission – rather than the NGC itself – on the need to investigate the viability of nationalisation.

Malema has a suspended sentence hanging over his head after the ANC’s national disciplinary committee found him guilty of bringing the party into disrepute.

In his closing address, Zuma, who seemed angered by the league’s conduct, said it was ill-disciplined “to intimidate and disrupt meetings simply because you do not agree or want to push a particular decision”.

But ANCYL spokesperson Floyd Shivambu said there was “no storming of the stage”. He said: “The ANCYL leadership followed the leaders of the provinces to the stage to speak to the chair to complain about the inaccurate manner in which discussions were being summarised.”

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